Skip to main content

Juvenile Justice Update | December 2023

December 18, 2023

State in Focus: Michigan 

In November, the Michigan Legislature passed a series of juvenile justice reform bills. Among other issues, the bills address the creation of guidelines for the use of risk and mental health screening tools to determine diversion eligibility as well as the limiting of pre-court diversion to three months unless it is determined a young person needs longer to complete a treatment program (HB 4625 and HB 4626). Risk and mental health screening tools must also be reviewed by a court when considering placing a juvenile case on the consent calendar—an alternative to formal processing that remains under court supervision (HB 4628). 

Regarding custody, HB 4629 mandates the use of a detention screening tool to determine whether secure confinement prior to a hearing is appropriate. Also, if a prosecuting attorney petitions for a juvenile to be tried as an adult, HB 4633 requires the court to consider a number of criteria, including the young person’s prior delinquency record as it pertains to any offense that would be a crime if committed by an adult as well as the juvenile’s developmental maturity and emotional and mental health. 

A handful of bills also eliminate certain fees in the juvenile justice system. HB 4636 prohibits the imposition of late fees on juveniles and their families for late payments of legal financial obligations. Additionally, HB 4637SB 428 and SB 429 remove the requirement that young people or their guardians pay certain fees or costs associated with a court case, court proceedings, agency costs of care and services, or post-disposition care. 

Lastly, SB 418 and SB 421 stipulate reimbursement for counties at a rate of 75% for in-home and community-based services for justice-involved youth. Counties must use the funds to develop screening tools for diversion and consent calendar decisions as well as the development of probation standards that align with evidence-based practice and research. The bills were signed into law on Dec. 12 by Lt. Gov. Garlin Gilchrist. 

On the Fiscal Front: $192M in Awards to Improve Juvenile Justice System 

The U.S. Department of Justice announced at the end of September that $192 million in grants will be awarded to help support state, local and tribal stakeholders “improve the fairness and effectiveness of the juvenile justice system.” The funding is intended to help communities expand youth violence prevention and intervention efforts, facilitate mentoring programs and reentry services, provide resources for vulnerable youth, and study outcomes for justice-involved youth. 

Over the years, grants awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention have helped organizations across the nation serve justice-involved youth and those who are at risk of becoming involved in the justice system. One such organization, Civic Heart, uses grant money for its VOICES and Youth C.A.N. programs. 

Working with family members, correctional officers and community partners, VOICES provides a gender-specific, wraparound approach to supporting girls who have had contact with the juvenile justice system or are at risk of becoming system-involved. For youth who are reentering the community after residential placement, Youth C.A.N. offers case management, mentorship, connections to resources, and educational and vocational training. Both programs work with young people in Harris County, Texas. 

Click here to read the office’s blog post about Civic Heart and here to see award amounts by state, program office and solicitation type for fiscal year 2023. 

Research and Response: Philadelphia Police School Diversion Program 

During the 2013-14 school year, 1,580 students from schools across Philadelphia were referred to law enforcement and arrested. Realizing that most youth arrest referrals were coming from the city’s school district, Philadelphia’s schools, law enforcement and human services department implemented the Police School Diversion Program

Under the program, a young person who commits a first-time, qualifying misdemeanor offense (such as disorderly conduct or marijuana possession on school grounds) will be offered the chance to participate in Intensive Prevention Services in lieu of arrest and the filing of a formal delinquency complaint. 

The program diverted 2,036 students from the justice system from 2013 to 2018 and is estimated to have saved stakeholders between $1.6 million and $1.9 million annually. Additionally, a recent study examining the long-term arrest and school outcomes of the program demonstrated that “diverted youth were significantly less likely than matched arrested youth to experience a recidivism arrest within 5 years of their initial school-based incident” (NeMoyer et al.). Click here to learn more. 

The Latest in Data: School Resource Officers 

A recent Bureau of Justice Statistics bulletin examines a variety of metrics related to school resource officers from 2019 to 2020. 

Key findings include: 

  • At the end of the 2019-20 school year, there were approximately 23,400 sworn SROs nationwide. Of them, about: 
  • 49% were employed by local police departments. 
  • 32% were employed by sheriffs’ offices. 
  • 19% were employed by school district police departments. 
  • Approximately 83% of all sworn SROs were male, and 17% were female. 
  • More than 90% of SROs were trained in how to respond to justice-involved youth as well as mental health issues and conflict resolution. 
  • Nearly 100% of SROs usually carried a firearm when working at their primary school assignment. 
  • About 17% of SROs reported that the school administration reviewed arrest-eligible offenses or that the SRO worked with the administration before making an arrest decision. 
  • About 54% of SROs reported arresting a student for drug possession within the past year. 
  • Within the 30 days prior to the survey, about 69% of SROs had responded to an incident in the classroom. 

Juvenile Justice Publications and Resources 

See the latest research and publications on juvenile justice policy. 

Links to external websites and reports are for information purposes only and do not indicate NCSL’s endorsement of the content. 

This project was supported by Grant #15PJDP-22-GK-04988-TITL awarded by the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention, Office of Justice Programs, U.S. Department of Justice. The opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this [publication/program/exhibition] are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect those of the Department of Justice.

  • Contact NCSL

  • For more information on this topic, use this form to reach NCSL staff.